Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


The results of this intense engagement with Aristotle appears to have been elaborated by Heidegger in a large manuscript, whose essential contents were to be published in an article to be provided to Husserl's Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung, but which never appeared. In it Heidegger would have treated Nicomachean Ethics book VI, the second book of De Anima, books I (1-2) and VII-IX of Metaphysics, and book I (8) of Physics. Namely all those texts of Aristotle that would later represent the main references of the confrontation5.

Heidegger recalls this moment of his confrontation with Aristotle as follows: "the clearer it became to me that the increasing familiarity with phenomenological seeing was fruitful for the interpretation of Aristotle's writing, the less I could separate myself from Aristotle and the other Greek thinkers. Of course I could not immediately see what decisive consequences my renewed occupation with Aristotle was to have. As I myself […] after 1919 […] tried out a transformed understanding of Aristotle in a seminar, my interest leaned anew toward the Logical Investigations, above all the sixth investigation of the first edition. The distinction which is worked out there between sensuous and categorical intuition revealed itself to me in its scope for the determination of the 'manifold meaning of being.'"6.

This important engagement with Aristotle in the years of the first Freiburg lessons is then taken up again in the Marburg courses, where the interpretation of Aristotle appears closely related to the elaboration of Heidegger's speculative program, namely the restating of the problem of being through analysis of being-there. For this reason, the Marburg interpretation of Aristotle differs from interpretations after the "turn". It is not a case of – as, for example, in his essay on the Aristotelian concept of φύσις – of interpreting within an already constituted horizon, that of the history of metaphysics as history of forgetfulness of being, an essential moment of that history (the Aristotelian point), to test the consistency of the big picture and the belonging of that moment to the picture. In Marburg, continuing the investigation already started in the last years at Freiburg, the question for Heidegger is to grasp in Aristotelian thought some determinations and some essential moments that, with opportune restructuring, serve him as an essential aid to pursue his own foundational goals.

5 See E. Husserl, Briefe an Roman Ingarden. Mit Erläuterungen und Erinnerungen an Husserl (Phaenomenologica, 25), Nijhoff, Den Haag 1968, pp. 25-27; see also Gadamer, Heideggers Wege, p. 118. [Heidegger's Ways]

6 Heidegger, Mein Weg in die Phänomenologie, p. 86 (trans. It., p. 187). Emphasis mine. [GA 14. "My Way to Phenomenology".]

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